The initiation of human spaceflight was strategic, as part of a Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. It ultimately positioned our nation as dominant both militarily and in advanced technology applications. The overall scientific and economic contributions to society directly attributable to discoveries made for human space exploration is enormous and difficult to calculate. In pursuit of an understanding of our place in the universe, we must have the courage to set a new strategic objective for NASA. Doing so will help to maintain our military leadership, and spark the innovation necessary to successfully compete in a world economy.
Steve Craft is the deputy director in the strategic relationships office at NASA's Langley Research Center. He is also the originator of TEDxNASA.